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Saturday, March 28, 2009

Doing it right

Just found what looks to be a great tool for my podcasting, called "Callburner."  Found it via The Conversations Network, a 501c3 non-profit that I think of as the equivalent of NPR for podcasting.   For some reason, I don't think of NPR's podcasts, as being the equivalent of NPR for podcasting.  Go figure.

I was researching "PodCorps," a network of stringers who will record (for example) the end of a long distance phone interview in their own area.  I think I signed up for it, but now that I think about it, I'm not sure.  Anyway, was watching this video prepared by Doug Kaye and Phil Sharpe on recording Skype interviews, and they mentioned Callburner as one of the best options for doing that. 

Recording from a Skype stream isn't necessarily straightforward without using hardware external to your computer.  There are a number of pretty fair options for recording such calls via software on the same machine you're using for the call itself.  There are a number of reasons I like Callburner for Skype calls, though I haven't actually gotten to use it yet.

1.  It's free for Skype-to-Skype calls, if both ends are using Callburner.  I guess the two copies of Callburner talk to each other to make sure there are at least two installations on the call.

2.  It's free for Skype conference calls, if there are at least two Callburners on the call.  Any or all the Callburner installs can record the call.

3.  It is extremely simple to install and configure.  Most of the default selections will be adequate for most uses.  It can either automatically record all Skype calls unless you tell it not to, call-by-call, or vice versa.  It can do that beeping thing to indicate the call is being recorded, or not, as needed.

4.  It is extremely simple to select what I consider the best option for my purposes.  The way I set mine, it records one CD-quality stereo file with the remote caller in one channel, and the local caller in the other.  It simultaneously creates two mono files, one for each end of the call, and again CD quality or better.  The former is fine for most uses, the latter is ideal for editing for use in podcasts.

The one part I'm a bit iffy on is the price.  I'm not claiming it isn't worth 50 euros, it is.  It's just that I'd find it tough to spare, what, $66 for the software without a revenue source driven by its use.  Again, it's free as described above, and fully free to try for 14 days.

But I've recorded a Skype Test Call, and recorded my own call to my K7 line for the podcast, and it Just Works.  In the circumstances, I couldn't tell ya from quality of the far end recording.  But it worked as expected, and I didn't stumble across any options I didn't understand, or any options I couldn't set the way I felt appropriate.





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